Trevor Bates has been working out much of the summer in Foxborough, Massachusetts, but he’s made time to return to Maine and relax with family and friends – and recharge.

After all, he has a big month coming up.

Bates, the former Westbrook High and University of Maine star, is looking to land a spot on the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster. Bates, 23, will take the field with his teammates when the Patriots open training camp at 9 a.m. Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

“I’m excited to get the pads on and start playing actual football,” said Bates. “We’ve had the weight training and the speed training and the (organized team activities). Now camp comes around and you’re going full throttle. I’m excited to get out there.”

The 6-foot-2 Bates – he says he’ll enter training camp at 244 pounds, “the optimum weight for Trevor Bates” – is one of the 10 linebackers on the training-camp roster. Unlike years past, the NFL will have only one cut-down day this year, on Sept. 2, the Saturday after the final preseason game. That gives Bates more time to impress a coaching staff that got to know him last fall after he was signed to New England’s practice squad on Nov. 7.

Bates said he’ll be focused on getting better at one thing each day, whether at linebacker or on special teams.

“Whatever task (the coaches) give me,” he said, “whatever package they want me in, whatever reps I get, I’ve got to be consistent in doing my job at a high level.

“That means no mental errors and being on point with everything I’m responsible for, show them that they can have confidence in my playing ability.”

Joe Harasymiak, the second-year head coach at UMaine, sees it as a great opportunity for Bates.

“He’s in a good place,” said Harasymiak, who was Maine’s defensive coordinator during Bates’ final two seasons in Orono. “He’s doing the right things there and we know, at least looking from the outside, that it looks like they reward guys who do the right thing.

“Trevor is never going to be cut because of his attitude and work ethic. He’s a guy who gives you everything he’s got.”

And he’s certainly done that, all the way to earning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year following their dramatic – perhaps still unbelievable – 34-28 comeback overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.

It’s a memory he’ll always cherish, but he knows it means nothing as training camp opens.

“The NFL is a business, a quick business,” he said. “You don’t rehash or stay on one moment too long. You’ve got to constantly keep moving forward, getting better.”

Bates was a three-sport standout at Westbrook High. He arrived in Orono with a $1,000 scholarship, and by the time he graduated was a three-time all-Colonial Athletic Association selection, including first-team honors as a senior. He finished his college career with 19 sacks, 35 tackles for a loss and three interceptions.

The Indianapolis Colts selected Bates in the seventh round of the 2016 draft and he made their practice squad. He was signed to the Colts’ 53-man roster on Oct. 5, played in one game (Oct. 9 vs. the Chicago Bears) and was cut four days later. After workouts with the Detroit Lions and Patriots, Bates signed with New England and spent the rest of the season on the Patriots’ practice squad.

Twice he was named the Patriots’ Practice Player of the Week and had his weekly salary increased from $6,900 to $18,000. Beyond that, he earned the respect of his teammates.

Before the Super Bowl, offensive tackle Nate Solder said the practice squad players were the “unspoken heroes” of the team, working in anonymity to prepare the starters for whatever the opposition may have planned.

Days after the Super Bowl victory, the Patriots signed Bates to a $465,000 contract for 2017. Now he’s ready to take another step.

“I look at this as an opportunity to play for the greatest team in the NFL,” he said. “I’m going to try to take full advantage of this chance, showcase my talent and be consistently dependable. I want to prove that I can belong and earn my spot.”

Bates isn’t the only former Black Bear in an NFL training camp. Defensive lineman Pat Ricard reported Wednesday to the Baltimore Ravens. The 6-3, 300-pound Ricard signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent last April.

He was impressive in the Ravens’ OTAs, playing several positions on the defensive line as well as fullback on offense, but knows that means nothing right now.

“First thing I have to do is just get into the playbook so I won’t feel like I’ll make mistakes,” said Ricard, 23. “Then show my versatility, be as valuable as I can so it will be hard for them to cut me. I need to outwork everyone and play with as much effort as I can when I’m on the field.”

Ricard had a stellar career for Maine, finishing with 208 tackles, 47.5 tackles for a loss and 18 sacks. And he had an impressive Pro Day to gain the Ravens’ attention.

Ricard recently spent a couple of weeks home in Spencer, Massachusetts, before reporting.

“It clears your mind a little bit, gets you re-energized,” he said. “But this is it. There’s a lot of pressure. When you’re home you don’t get to relax much because it’s always in the back of mind.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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